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THE CONCORD SAUNTERER 






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March 1969 Vol 4 No 1 

Now we have winter, the snow coming 
lately and all at once or twice or thrice, 
reminding us of Vvinslow Homer's woodcut of 
digging out* Our driveways are like the 
camps of trapdoor spiders and we launch forth 
in our cars but with the reverse hope of not 
making a strike. 

Our ftalden house replica did not get its 
sure footings before frost and snow and is still 
waiting for free soil. Access to the site would 
still best be made with snowshoes, though once 
a path was packed down, one could make it less 
amply shod during early hours before the thawing 
process started. For now our morning star, the 
sun, is rising earlier, and there is daily more 
promise to our enterprises. 

ASPIRE 
Currently on display at the Lyceum is a 
very attractive exhibit of sea shells from the 
collection of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Moore. As 
preface, there is a quotation from The Chambered 
Nautilus, by Oliver Wendell Holmes, beginning — 



- 2 - 

"Build thee more stately mansions, 
Oh my soul. 11 

This exhibit thus suggests a Thoreauvian 
integration of science, philosophy and art, and 
one can see the logarithmic spirals that en- 
chanted da Vinci and Christopher Wren, which 
D f Arcy Thompson reminds us in his classic book, 
On Growth and Form , were called spira mirabilis, 
and one may remember Goethe's similar thought 
that it is the spirit which builds the body. 

Another part of the collection suggests 
Lyell and Agassiz, with the realization that the 
early years of the 19th century found the creation ; 
to have been on a much grander scale than the 
Mosaic version of Bishop Ussher T s event in 4004, 
B.C. For here is sand from the high and dry Con- 
chella Desert of California, which proves 
through the magnifying glass to be made up of 
sea shells. Darwin bore the brunt of the con- 
troversy by introducing the simian into an ad ; | 
hominem argument, but the time span and grand 
scale of natural history and geology had been 
affirmed by his time. 

Cape Cod will be the theme of our Spring 
activity, as of May 22nd, and will feature Dr. 
John F. Lewis, an ecologist of note. More will 
be said of this in our next issue, which will, 
we hope, precede this date. 

This postscript appeared on the Thoreau 
Society Bulletin envelope: "Three-week summer 
seminars on THOREAU and on TRANSCENDENTALISM, 
to be held in Concord, Mass., June 30 — July 16 

and July 2 August #, 1969. Full graduate or 

advanced undergraduate credit. Instructors: 
Salter Harding and William Drake. Sponsored by 
State University of New York Colleges at Geneseo 
and Oswego. For information, write Walter Harding, 
English Department, SUNY, Geneseo, New York, 
14454. » 



- 3 - 

THE SUCCESSION OF FOREST TREES 
Thoreau f s best formal contribution to 
natural history was an essay, presented as 
an address to the Middlesex Agricultural 
Society in September i860 and published in 
their annual report, and in Excursions . It 
bears reading or rereading. The scene of 
the address was near the Texas House. 

"Every man is entitled to come to 
Cattle show, even a transcendentalist ; and 
for my part I am more interested in the men 
than in the cattle. I wish to see once more 
those old familiar faces, whose names I do 
not know, which for me represent the Middle- 
sex country, and come as near being indige- 
nous to the soil as a white man can; the 
men are not above the business, whose coats 
are not too black, whose gloves do not shine 
very much, who never wear gloves to conceal 
their hands. • . ft 

After these introductory pleasantries, 
he explains "how it happened that when a 
pine wood was cut down an oak one commonly 
sprang up, and vice versa." He argued that 
certain conditions of sun and soil benefited 
one kind of tree over the other, that our 
woods were of mixed growth anyway, and that 
seed was spread fairly widely by the air, 
by birds and by small game. He did not 
entirely create this idea, but it was the 
first time that the affirmed answer was 
clearly developed. His lifelong know- 
ledge of the Concord woods and fields, 
extended by his business as surveyor, gave 
his quick perception enough opportunity to 
confirm earlier clues to this basic fact of 
forest development - and incidentally to 
reject nonsensical arguments. 

This essay was brought to renewed at- 
tention when I turned up a book, Life; 
Its True Genesis , by R.W. Wright, published 
by Putnam in 1880. Mr. Wright quotes ex- 
tensively from other sources on this sub- 
ject, including Timothy Dwight, the Yale 
president whose New England Travels were 
familiar to Thoreau. Yet this life genesis 



- 4 - 
man did not quote Thoreau, since he was going 
after different ideas. He argued that seeds 
do not lie dormant long, and that this process 
must really be caused by spontaneous germina- 
tion* He does tend to hide his thoughts with 
words, but he did betray himself thus: ft It 
is easy enough to find soil about old stumps, 
and fallen trunks and branches of trees, which 
will produce raspberries, either with or with- 
out the presence of seed." 

One can only assume that this author, circa 
1880, in pursuing obscure sources and avoiding 
more readily available ones, was less than 
honest with himself or his readers*.* Thoreau 
is careful to suggest earlier sources, to make 
no false claims, weighing each writer according 
to his merits, letting the chips fall where 
they may. 

SLIDES OF THOREAU' S WALDEN 
The Thoreau Lyceum is happy to announce 
the acquisition of 35mm. color slides, chosen 
from the extensive collection of Roland to. 
Robbins. Mr. Robbins has generously allowed 
the Lyceum to duplicate them so that they may 
be made available to interested Thoreauvians. 
Our initial set of slides are priced at 4<V 
each, and there are twenty of them. Of particular 
interest are the two views across Walden, show- 
ing steam trains, much as Thoreau might have 
seen them. With the steam engine long gone, 
these views can f t be seen today. Also included 
are Spring, Summer and Winter views of Mr. 
Robbins 1 reproduction of Thoreau 1 s Walden house. 
Needless to say, his experience and this proto- 
type are much in mind as we set about to 
create our own version. 



Reading the biography of a Wilmington 
farmer who helped build the railroads, we 
were interested to note that the ties were 
further apart in Thoreau 1 s time. With heavier 
trains and better roadbeds, they are about a 
foot apart. This makes for an odd gait for 
any track walkers. 



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- 5 - 

Tom Blanding, now going into his senior 

year at Marlboro College, will be at the Ly- 
ceum this summer, with the support of a 
government grant. He is doing work on the 
Thoureau Journal manuscripts, and the Morgan 
Library is making a microfilm or photostatic 
copies available to him on a loan basis... 

Professor Delta G. Reed of San Angelo, 
Texas, has been particularly helpful, and we 
hope to report soon on her efforts on our 
behalf... 

One of our members distributed quite a 
few of our Thoreau-Gleason calendars to busi- 
ness acquaintances, One note of thanks told 
of "receiving your thoughtful gift and enjoy- 
ing the wit of Mark Twain again after years 
away from reading his incisive obser vat ions J I 1 
toalden* s waters, to a greater depth than two 
marks, were surveyed last fall, as we reported 
earlier. Now one of the electronic firms gives 
a seismic chart or record in its magazine, 
i±)GG Ink, for November-December last. The 
chart looks quite canyon-like due to compress- 
ion of the horizontal. "Despite persistent 
legends," EG&G f s magazine notes, "the pond is 
neither bottomless nor fed by a powerful 
underground river. The pond is spring fed and 
the greatest depth proved to be 102 ft., the 
depth correctly calculated by Thoreau some 
hundred years earlier... temperatures at the 
further depths were quite low (down in the 
thirties)... a blanket of sediment overlies 
the bottom for a considerable depth." 

Leonard Kleinfeld f s one-act transcenden- 
tal play, "Stones for the Cairn" has just 
been published in the February 1969 local 
paper, Hear Ye , edited by Jason Korell... 



- 6 - 

Ralph Parker of "Africa - Outward 
Bound" is teaching at Fenn School in 
Concord and will lead his group of 
seventh grade boys in a study of the 
Estabrook Woods, A survey map of the 
area will challenge their mathematical 
ability while history will be served 
by an in-depth investigation of a 19th 
century Concord farmer, Brooks Clark, 
the "Barefoot Clark" portrayed by N.C. 
Wyeth in Thoreau f s Men of Con cord . The 
final paper will test the boys in com- 
position. The Lyceum hopes to display 
the result some time later in the spring. 

Thanks to our interest in the Edward 
Emerson book and our reprint of it, we 
have been lent this letter by the younger 
Emerson: 

Concord, Mass. 
November Sth, 1917 
Dear Miss Nevins: 

I f m glad you were interested in my 
presentation of my memories of my child- 
hood f s friend. As for his ancestry, Mr. 
H.S. Salt, (the young English teacher 
with prospects of University and Church 
preferment but gladly gave up all, I was 
told, for the simple life after reading 
"Vvalden") says, in his good life of 
Thoreau, that the grandfather "a younger 
son in a well-to-do family of French 
extract ion, emigrated from St. Helier, in 
Jersey, to New England in 1773. n 

A Professor Cohn of Harvard, some years 
ago, a (Hebraic) Frenchman, said that he 
never heard of the name in France, but 
that originally French surnames had mas- 
culine and feminine terminations, as the 
Romans had, and the Poles do; and that, 
later, the two forms became fixed - there 
were Moreau families and Morel families, 



- 7 - 

Rousseau, and Rousels, but that he only 
knew of the Thorel name in modern France, 
but the masculine form continued in Jersey. 
A Mrs* Horte, ne6 Thoreau, of Jersey an- 
cestry, came to the celebration the other 
day. 

I ainuglad that my account of my friend 
pleased you. It is a relief to me to have 
published my testimony. I ought to have 
done it years ago, but have used what is 
now printed as a lecture all over the country 
for a good many years. 

Sincerely yours, 

Edward to. Emerson" 

The next issue of the Saunterer 
should appear not very long hence, since 
several ambitious projects are now in the 
balance. In lesser matters, we now have 
a better back door - better in its fit and 
its lines - and from its windows we will 
watch the recession of the snow, and rehearse 
the details of house building. 




- 3 - 



"Where I lived was as far off as many a 
region viewed nightly by astronomers. I dis- 
covered that my house actually had its site in 
such a withdrawn, but forever new, and unpro- 
faned, part of the universe. If it were worth 
the while to settle in those parts near to the 
Pleiades . . . then I was really there, or at an 
equal remoteness from the life which I had left 
behind, dwindled and twinkling with as fine a 
ray to my nearest neighbor, and to be seen only 
in moonless nights by him. 



Henry David Thoreau 
Walden 



Please note that inflation has hit 
the street -numbering system in Concord, 
and THE THOREAU LYCEUM is no longer ^8 
but now I56 Belknap Street, Concord, 
Massachusetts, 01742. Our telephone 
number is still Area 617 369-5912 (some 
of us still call it "Emerson 9")... Vve 
are non-profit and tax exempt. Annual 
dues: Member, |3« Friend of the Lyceum, $10; 
Contributing Member $25; Life Member $100.